Health Service Executive -v- SB (Care Order - Homelessness & Addictions)

Case OutcomeApproved
CourtDistrict Court
Docket NumberN/A
JudgeHorgan P.
Judgment Date05 Mar 2013
Neutral Citation[2013] IEDC 6
[2013] IEDC 6
5 March 2013
1. This is an applicat ion for a Care Order under section 18(1) of t he Child Care Act, 1991 (herein after referred to as ‘t he 1991 Act’) in
respect of the Child who was born in August 2011 at 27 weeks gest ation with a v ery low birth weight.
2. The Child’s mother is legally represented in the proceedings by solicitor and c ounsel.
3. The Child’s father is not legally represented by his own choic e in the proce edings and I am satisfied that t he notic e of applicat ion
was duly served on t he father.
4. The se parate interests of the child are represented in the proc eedings by the Guardian ad Litem (“GAL”) appointed by the Court on
23 November 2011.
5. The GAL indicated t o the Court his support for a Care Order in respect of the Child and recommended such Order for the full
duration until the child reaches the age of 18 years. The GAL approves the HSE’s Care Plan in respect of the Child provided to Court.
6. The HSE brought this applicat ion on the basis t hat t he Child’s health, development, and welfare is likely to be avoidably impaired or
neglected if the c hild is returned at this time to t he joint care of the parents or to the care of either of t hem due to the parents’
chaotic lifestyle, t he existenc e of domestic v iolence betwee n the parents, the volat ile nature of the parent s’ personal relationship,
the mutual lack of c apacity to parent t he child, and the mother’s alcohol misuse and histrionic personality disorder.
7. I am satisfied that the [District given] has jurisdict ion to hear this applicat ion.
8. The Mot her has three older c hildren in another jurisdiction who were all placed in t he care of their respect ive grandparents under a
Supervision Requirement Order by the Courts in that jurisdiction and t he children were also placed on t he Child Protect ion Register in
this jurisdiction.
9. The HSE bec ame involved in 2009 when the mother left her c ountry of habitual residence with her youngest in contravent ion of the
Court Order made in that jurisdict ion. The c hild came into the Care of t he HSE by way o f an Emergency Care Order on 16 July 2009
until, by Order of Finlay Geoghegan J in the High Court, this child was ret urned to the c are of Social Services in the country of the
child’s habitual residence. The mother remained in this jurisdiction residing in a variety of homeless person’s acc ommodations.
10. The Community Welfare Offic er notified the HSE of c oncerns regarding the mother’s ability to c are for her premature child in light
of her lifestyle and homelessness. The Medical Soc ial Worker in the maternity hospital also note d conc erns for the saf ety of the c hild
who was in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit in the Hospital and note d conc erns about the fract ious relationship between mother and
father even in the maternity hospital.
11. The Soc ial Work Department had already procured a psyc hological assessment of the mother between September 2009 and
October 2009 in the c ontext of their earlier engagement with her. This assessment by t he clinical psyc hologist co ncluded that the
mother had serious personality diffic ulties and a history of c hronic difficulty in sustaining a stable lifestyle f or her and her children. She
also had previous ill-defined mental health diffic ulties. The Ps ychological assess ment was that the mother presented as meeting the
DSM IV clinical criteria for histrionic personality disorder. Additionally, this psychological assessment found t hat t he mother was likely
to c ontinue to hav e difficulty sust aining a stable lifestyle a nd it was rec ommended that she be referred for further psychiat ric
assessment and evaluation.
12. On 30 September 2012, an Emergency Child Protect ion Conference was held and it was det ermined that the risk to the child was
so high if discharged from the maternity hospital to t he care of the parents, that an Interim Care order should be applied for. The
mother subsequently sought hospital treat ment for a fract ured jaw which she c laimed to have suffered following an alterc ation and
though she denied that the fa ther had perpetuate d this injury, she agreed that her relationship with the father w as consist ently
13. Due to conc erns about t he mother’s ability to ca re for the c hild due to her alcohol abuse, c haotic lifestyle, and domestic
upheaval, the HSE co ncluded that the mother did not have t he capac ity t o care for a very sic k infant at t hat t ime and consequently
sought an Interim Care Order.
14. The c hild was admitted to t he care of the HSE on t he granting of an Interim Care Order on 6 Oct ober 2011, which has been
extended by the Court on 14 occ asions since that dat e until the date of hea ring. Two earlier dates were fixed for t he hearing of this
case, but these dates w ere vacat ed on consent t o fac ilitate the mother engaging in services t o gain tract ion on her alcohol addiction
and resolve her homelessness so that a full Care Order could be avoided.
15. On the day of hearing, it was indicate d to t he Court that the mother did not propose t o cont est t he application of t he HSE for a
Care Order for the child but opposed the making of a Care Order until the child reached the age of 18 years. The mother indicated her
consent to t he making of a Care Order for a period of one y ear.

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